Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NFL Colts Wide Receiver, Pierre Garçon, Continues Haiti Relief

By Vanessa Valentin | IDS

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garçon talks with fans Sunday at Alumni Hall. Audience members paid $10 to ask questions and get autographs from the athlete; all proceeds went to benefit Haiti, where Garcon's family is from.

Students and community members in the Indiana Memorial Union Sunday cheered as Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon took the stage. Some brought jerseys and T-shirts for him to sign.

Garcon was there to speak about his work to support Haiti relief efforts. He is of Haitian descent and was invited to the White House earlier this month to discuss continuing efforts in Haiti with President Barack Obama and Haitian President Rene Preval.

Garcon, who had been planning a visit to Haiti before the earthquake said he looks forward to his April 5 trip. His visit will include a second meeting with the Haitian president, opening an elementary school in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince and passing out food and supplies.

He said his efforts to aid Haiti began before the earthquake, which only intensified his passion to help the country.

“I come from there,” he said. “Those are my people.”

Garcon opened the floor for a question-and-answer session and many took advantage of this, asking about everything from how long he wants to play for the Colts — he said he hopes his whole career — and what he planned to do for Haiti long term.

To answer that question, Garcon explained he hopes to help with several initiatives, including electricity, internet and athletic centers in Haiti. He said these are things he believes would help Haitians in general.

“This won’t happen overnight,” he said. “But we are looking forward to the future.”
Sophomore Amanda Elliot said she admired Garcon’s efforts.

“I think it’s cool he is focusing on long term too,” she said.

For now, his emphasis is raising money for Haiti in order to provide food, clothing and tents for the people of his home country. He said many are suffering without shelter and that the basic necessity needs to be established for everyone before they could move forward.

He acknowledged and praised those who had already gotten involved in the effort, from other players to international help.

“Anything we get we accept and appreciate,” he said.

Graduate student Solfils Telfort, who is also a Haitian native, said he does what he can to raise awareness and money about his home country.

“What I can do to give my help here is perform in events,” he said. “I sing.”

Telfort has also been asked to speak at other events raising awareness about the situation.

Garcon pushed for everyone to get involved by reaching out to those at IU who are doing things to help Haiti, pointing to organizations such as Union Board and United for Haiti, who sponsored the player’s visit.

The money raised during the event will go to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, the organization Garcon works closely with.

Union Board sponsored another event Sunday, a benefit dinner for both Haiti and Chile relief.

Sophomore Catherine Gibson, Union Board’s public relations director said the board is always looking to support the cause and is willing to work with other organization in their efforts.

“I think it’s good for the students and the community,” she said.

Source: IDS

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